R10m unlicensed raw tobacco from Zimbabwe found in East London warehouse

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Police discovered about 1 279 boxes weighing a total of 200 kilograms of both raw and cut rag tobacco.
Police discovered about 1 279 boxes weighing a total of 200 kilograms of both raw and cut rag tobacco.
Supplied by SAPS
  • On Wednesday, Eastern Cape officials discovered about 1 279 boxes weighing a total of 200 kilograms of both raw and cut rag tobacco.
  • The contraband, suspected to have come through the Beit Bridge border post from Zimbabwe, were found in a warehouse in East London.
  • The owner of the warehouse has been arrested.

Officials discovered a stash of unprocessed tobacco worth R10 million at a warehouse in the town's Thorn Park, suspected to have come through the Beit Bridge border post from Zimbabwe.

East London police made the bust in collaboration with customs officers.

A 31-year-old male suspect was arrested for possession of unprocessed tobacco and bribery.

READ | R10m worth of illegally imported alcohol seized at Northern Cape home  

Eastern Cape police said the arrest came after customs officials at the border post stopped a truck with a cargo of unlicensed tobacco destined for East London.

Customs officials informed their colleagues in East London about a Warehouse in Kleipheuvel Road as the cargo's destination.

tobbaco bust in east london
The confiscated contraband is estimated at a street value of R10 million.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said SAPS' Rural Safety members and custom officials stormed the warehouse and discovered stacks of numerous boxes of unprocessed tobacco.

He said the suspect was arrested for possession of the product and illegal activities that allegedly took place inside the alleged rented business premises.

ALSO READ | KZN cops arrest 2 suspects in R1.5 million drug bust

Kinana said during the operation, police discovered about 1 279 boxes weighing a total of 200 kilograms of both raw and cut rag tobacco.

He added that the suspect allegedly attempted to bribe the customs officials with an undisclosed amount of money to evade arrest.

The customs officials reported the matter to the police who had since confiscated the alleged cash and added another charge of bribery, said Kinana.

tobbaco bust
The arrest and bust happened at a Thorn Park warehouse in East London.

The confiscated contraband had an estimated street value of R10 million, said Kinana.  

Acting provincial police commissioner Major-General Zithulele Dladla commended the work of the police in partnership with customs officials.

ALSO READ | Mpumalanga policeman caught with dagga worth R570 000

Dladla said:

It is this kind of collaboration and information sharing that will ensure our success in breaking the backbone of the criminal network. I trust that our detectives will dig more into these despicable activities in order to expose even those who may have been part of the plan and business.

The suspect is due to appear in the East London Magistrate's Court once he's charged for possession of unprocessed tobacco and bribery.

The possibility of additional charges could not be ruled out and the investigation continued, said Kinana.

Kinana was unable to confirm if the truck driver stopped at the border post was arrested.

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